BEST TO PREVENT IT: Vet nurse with Riverbank Animal Hospital Carina Cary with a puppy recovering from parvovirus.
BEST TO PREVENT IT: Vet nurse with Riverbank Animal Hospital Carina Cary with a puppy recovering from parvovirus. Adam Hourigan

Doggy disease puts puppies at risk

THEIR TINY body is spent. Ravaged from dehydration, a symptom of constant vomiting and diarrhoea.

His stomach is at war with a heinous virus that unleashes bacteria into its bloodstream.

When it turns septic it leads to a unimaginably painful death, an event nobody would ever want to bear witness to.

But according to Riverbank Animal Hospital, this is the reality of parvo virus and Clarence pet owners need to be vigilant if they want to avoid facing this horrendous ordeal.

The virus is spread through dog faeces and is on the rise again according to Riverbank vet Dr Sam Biddle.

"It does come and go in waves, and we've had quite a few cases in the last couple of weeks," he said.

"All the dog has to do is to sniff a patch of grass where another dog has had its poo and it will pick it up."

One of its first symptoms is explosive diarrhoea and vomiting, enabling the disease to spread quicker.

"It is really contagious. It lives in the gut and intestinal wall, and causes lots of inflammation to the gut.

"The dogs will die from dehydration a lot of the time, or they can die from sepsis from bacteria from the gut getting out into the bloodstream. It's not a nice death. It's like doggy cholera."

The most effective prevention is immunisation, with a three-part vaccine available for dogs from six weeks.

"They have one at six weeks, another at 10 and the final at 14 weeks before they're actually immune," Dr Biddle said.

"In adult dogs it's a one-off injection and then two weeks later they'll be right and it lasts a year, so it can be done as part of their yearly vaccinations.

"It's really effective. If they get vaccinated and it's after the appropriate time, it's almost unheard of those dogs to get parvo."

Dr Biddle said the virus can lay dormant in soil for years before one dog picks it up, develops it and spreads it.

Puppies are more susceptible to the disease, and owners should look for signs of vomiting and diarrhoea and seek vet treatment immediately.